By Erin Ollila
You’ve been doing purees with your baby for some time, and now you’re ready to try letting your little one feed themselves. However, you’re a bit anxious. How do you know your baby is ready? If your baby is able to sit up on her own, put food into their own mouth, and practices a chewing motion while eating, it’s safe to try finger foods.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas on how you can introduce finger foods to your little one.
Introduce Small Portions First
When your baby works through purees, thickened oatmeals, and chunky mixes without a problem, you’ll know they’re ready for finger food. But what should you try first?
Anything you want!
Mom of two Leanne Soares shares a few options her kids liked when they were learning how to eat. She says, “Some favorites were ground turkey or lightly-seasoned chicken, black beans, grated mozzarella cheese, and small shells.” Soares also made dime-sized pancakes for breakfast for her babies. Her pro tip is to use a “Ziplock bag with the corner snipped off to help — like a piping bag!”
If you’re nervous your baby will choke – and this is a common concern, so don’t feel like you’re alone — use feeding accessories to help your baby only get small amounts of the food into their mouth.
Jessica Trahan, mom of one says, “I used silicone and mesh feeders a lot at the beginning and tried cucumbers in them which he seemed to love.” Doing this gave her the confidence to keep going with new foods and more freedom. It also showed her little one that eating can be fun — and tasty.
Trahan continues, “After a little while of that I gave him very small bites of peeled cucumber and he would practice chewing on them and then spit them out. It only took about a day of practicing before he started swallowing them and we just kept adding more solids from there.”
Once Trahan felt comfortable knowing that her child could swallow baby-sized portions, she felt better introducing new options to her little one. She continues, “Now his favorites are zucchini, blueberries, peaches, shrimp, mac and cheese, and still cucumbers. Knock on wood, but we haven’t yet found anything that he outright refuses to eat.”
Healthy Finger Foods to Try at Home
When you’re ready to try new foods, you might be looking for snacks and meals you can incorporate into your family’s meal plan. Here are a few suggestions for incorporating healthy solids in your little one’s diet.
Have Baby Eat What You’re Eating
Once your baby enjoys the healthy finger foods you make, and you feel more confident feeding them, it’s time to introduce them to whatever you’re eating at dinner.
Soares says, “We made it a point to have them try everything we were eating — at least putting it on their plates along with their more kid-friendly food.” She continues, “I never made a completely different meal for them. I wanted them to see us enjoying the same food as a family. Still, to this day, we all sit down together, and we all eat the same thing for the most part.”
Doing this will introduce your baby’s palate to a wide variety of tastes and hopefully help to prevent future pickiness. But don’t stress too much. In a couple years, most toddlers will go through a phase where they’re quite selective on what they will eat. Push through, and you’ll all be enjoying quality dinners together for years to come.
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